Closing out a decade… (a review in pictures)

Posted by on February 3, 2020 in Blog, Uncategorized | 0 comments

As I’m sure many can echo, the last decade has been an eventful one. As we remember the milestones of the last ten years, we’re astonished and ever so thankful for the sweetness of the Lord that has sustained us, encouraged us and propelled us forward throughout the many transitions of living in four countries on four different continents. 


Originally slotted to leave for Madagascar in 2010, we knew without a shadow of a doubt that the Lord was keeping us in the USA for another year. In January 2010, Jamie’s mom, Bonnie, passed away after a long battle with breast cancer. We’re so thankful for the gift of time we had with her. 

June brought the birth of Gavin into our lives and our hearts and the fabric of our family has never been the same! 

Working, fundraising, midwifery school for Alissa, seminary for Jamie and preparing for an international move with three small children four years and under completed the rest of 2010.


In the wee hours of January 1, 2011, our family of five landed in Madagascar. My thoughts as we were winding our way through the darkened potholed streets, piled in two cars with luggage all around us, toddlers without carseats and a nursing six-month old in my arms was something along the lines of, “what in the *#&^@% did we just do?” 

The first six months of 2011 included intensive Malagasy language lessons for Alissa while Jamie taught Sekoly (preschool) to Isabella, Eliana and a former teammate’s son, Oliver. Those were precious days with lots of fun field trips for the kids as they explored their new world around them. 

July 2011 found us making the 15-hour drive and move to Mahajanga on the northwest coast– the town that would become our home for the remaining part of the decade. Midwifery studies resumed and the mangrove reforestation projects that began in 2007 with Eden Projects continued. 

Began a child-sponsorship program for four dear Malagasy children to help them attend junior high and high school in the capital city. Thank you to those who have lovingly sponsored and prayed for these four! 


Our family spent two months in the Philippines working with Mercy In Action so that Alissa could complete her midwifery clinical training and a few short months later, pass her national certifying midwifery board exams. 

Once back in Madagascar, Alissa reveled in the delight of being done with her formal midwifery education and she began preparations for opening the Sarobidy Maternity Center. Jamie resumed Fuller Seminary distance classes. 

The Malagasy were trained in the techniques of photographic surveying and GPS mapping for the mangrove work of Eden Reforestation Projects.

We began a small micro-loan finance project. The first two years of this was incredibly successful and benefited many. Sadly, in the end, it was discovered that the Malagasy couple who was administering this project was also syphoning the money. We learned a hard lesson.  

Jamie and the Eden Reforestation Projects team established the first dry deciduous nursery. 


In early 2013, our long-time dear friend and ministry partner, Josy, became deathly ill with end-stage kidney failure as a result of schistosomiasis. By the end of 2013, Josy had received a life-saving kidney from his brother with a surgery in India. So many of you generously donated and faithfully prayed for Josy. Thank you!

The first dry deciduous trees were transplanted from the nursery to the first planting site in the countryside. 

After countless hours of literal blood, sweat and tears, the Sarobidy Maternity Center opened in May 2013. 

We received our first Emmaus Road team from Westmont College. Such a sweet time with this amazing group of young people and the Malagasy team, many who gave their lives to Christ during this summer. 

Through Eden Projects, the first-ever school was built in the remote village of Mahabana where over 100 children are now receiving an education each year. 

Alissa trained Seraphine, the first Sarobidy Creations artisan to make jewelry. 


After hearing the expressed felt needs of many Malagasy friends and co-workers, other missionaries and ourselves, we began to host a monthly bilingual church service at the Sarobidy Maternity Center. 

We hosted our second Emmaus Road team from Westmont College with an equal amount of awesome students, Malagasy young people and God moments.

We suffered a break-in to the Sarobidy Maternity Center which shook us all a bit and forced us to better address the security needs. 

The first two girls from the Child Sponsorship program, Sissy and Clarisse, graduated high school! 

Welcomed new teammates. 

Alissa began training recent maternity center graduates in making jewelry which further developed the ministry of Sarobidy Creations


The Sarobidy Maternity Center was awarded its first large grant for the purchase of an ambulance. This ambulance has been essential over the years!

Began multiple renovations and building projects at the Sarobidy Maternity Center.  

Began the initial stages of the Tonga Soa Guesthouse as a welcoming place to receive and house volunteers. 

Sissy and Clarisse, the two young ladies from the Child Sponsorship Project arrived in the USA to begin college. 


Completed multiple renovations and building projects at SMC.  

Received three families for a one-year period. What a fun and memorable year that was with 10 adults and 16 children! 

Began deliveries at the Sarobidy Maternity Center. 

Found ourselves in a scary mob situation in which our vehicles were attacked. 

Had to fire a trusted maternity center employee after she was found to not be so trustworthy after all. We learned another hard lesson.

Vanah, the third Malagasy student from the Child Sponsorship Program graduated from high school and then also moved to the USA to begin college in Los Angeles!!

The remote village of Kalamboro, where Eden Projects works, had its first church service!

Successful purchase of the Sarobidy Maternity Center property! Thank you to so many who generously donated!


Three wonderful moms of the families working in Madagascar (Alissa’s mom included) arrived in 2017 to teach sewing skills to the Sarobidy Creations artisans. 

Mass exodus of families from our little corner of Madagascar– it’s the ever-revolving door of life and relationships on the mission field. 

Welcomed Josy to Santa Barbara where he experienced a bit of American life and shared his story of God’s healing with so many that have loved and prayed for him throughout the many years. 

New teammates, Elke and Ando and their kids joined the ministry in Madagascar. 


Experienced the devastating mudslides in Santa Barbara that killed many and forever changed the fabric of our tight-knit USA community. 

Returned to Madagascar and faced some extremely painful and difficult situations amidst the ministry. More hard lessons. 

More building projects at the Sarobidy Maternity Center to accommodate the growing needs of the program.

Midwives trained in the skill of medical sonography as to provide ultrasounds for the pregnant women in our program. 

Eden Projects built its first fire tower overlooking one of the planting sites. 

Moved our family to Albertville, France and began formal French language study. 


Completed 10 grueling months of French language study and came to the conclusion that it’s an absolutely beautiful and horrible language all at the same time! 

Said good-bye to sweet friends in France whom are now scattered throughout Europe and Africa. 

Eden Projects built their own office after 6 years of sharing an office space with the maternity center. 

Four of our six Malagasy midwives welcomed FIVE babies of their own in 2019!!! 

Jamie and I awarded Co-Alumni of the Year for Seattle Pacific University! 

The last decade has been thrilling, exhausting, full of life’s ups and downs and yet deeply satisfying as we follow the Lord!

A few extra random facts: 

26— the number of times we’ve moved between houses in the last decade. 

16— the number of missionary singles or families from various organizations that have come and gone from living in our city… that’s a lot of revolving doors!

60— stool samples we’ve had the privilege of getting tested. good times!

4— lovely teachers we’ve been blessed by who have come to homeschool our kids. 

2— bouts of typhoid fever for Isabella and Eliana.

2— post-graduate degrees.

187— long-haul international flights (ugh!) 

1— rabies scare which required post-exposure vaccines

countless— number of pesky rats killed in or around our home.

1000+— women and babies served at the Sarobidy Maternity Center.

1300+— men and women employed by Eden Reforestation Projects

240,000,000— trees planted through the hardworking and dedicated employees of Eden!

1– Amazing grace-filled God that is good beyond measure! 

Alumni of the Year

In case you missed the exciting news, Jamie and I are honored to have been named Co-Alumni of the Year by Seattle Pacific University

With this amazing award comes lots of cool mention about all that the Lord is doing on the great Red Island!

1. Check out this article in the Response magazine!!

2. Watch this short video about Jamie and the work that he’s leading through Eden Reforestation Projects in Madagascar. 

3. Take a listen to Jamie’s recent podcast with SPU! 

(We’ll share Alissa’s video and podcast next month!)

We’ll be at an awards dinner in Seattle on Saturday, February 8th. If you’d like to join in the festivities at Seattle Pacific University, click here to purchase your ticket! We’d absolutely LOVE to see you! 

Please join us in praying that the Lord would be glorified through these various videos, podcasts and articles and that others would be encouraged and challenged to boldly follow the Lord’s leading in their lives. Furthermore, would you pray with us that the Lord would use this platform to bring more awareness and further build the team and network for the ministry in Madagascar! 

Partnership Update…

Thank you to all who have partnered with us throughout the last decade or anywhere along the way! The ministry in Madagascar simply cannot happen without the faithful and generous partnership of so many, both in prayer and in finances!

We’re slowly closing the financial gap of our budget needs— thank you to all who have made this possible! In order to meet the remaining financial needs, we’re specifically looking for the following partners or any other combination thereof.

We ask that you would join us in praying and trusting for the Lord’s provision! In addition, would you consider joining our financial partnership team from one of the above breakdowns or any other amount that is right for you? All donations are tax-deductible through our mission organization, WorldVenture. 

There’s three ways you can join our team…

1. CLICK HERE and follow the link to set up your secure account with WorldVenture where you can proceed to make an on-going commitment or one-time gift. 

2. CALL (800) 487-4224 and select option #6 to speak with someone 8am-4pm MST (M-F). 

3. MAIL a check to:


20 Inverness Pl E

Englewood, CO 80112-5622

(Please specify your donation as designated for Jamie and Alissa Shattenberg by writing account #173 in the memo line (Note, for tax purposes, our names           should not appear on the check).

Thank you for investing, loving and praying for our family and the Malagasy people in our small corner of the globe! 

Upcoming events…

Jamie will be speaking in Anacortes, WA this coming weekend! He’d love to see anyone who can make it! 

Sunday, 1/12/20 @ 11:15am– Westminster Presbyterian Church. Anacortes, WA. 

Thank you for standing with us in celebration and in praise for this past decade! As this new year opens, we absolutely covet your prayers for the decade ahead! 

Grace and peace to you and yours!

Jamie, Alissa, Isabella, Eliana and Gavin

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